Gluten Free Pasta! She nailed It!
Margot Micallef has figured out how to make gluten free pasta taste good! 1.What/who inspired you to start your company? My sister, Gabriella, and I had given up pasta in our quest to eat clean. But that could only last so long — we’re Italian, after all! We hunted for pasta that offered great taste and quality nutrition but couldn’t find anything we liked. That’s when I said to my sister, “We have to develop one ourselves.” That’s when we created our original skinnypasta™, which is low in both calories and carbohydrates but high in protein, and have since expanded our product family significantly. We now offer pastas made with teff, a nutrient-dense and gluten-free ancient grain, prepared meals for adults and kids, and we’re getting ready to launch sauces. Our company grew out of the belief that foods can be both nutritious and delicious, and our mission is to empower everyone to nourish and celebrate healthy living! 2.Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? I grew up mostly in Canada but spent some time in Europe and the US. My family was very Italian and my mum and grandparents spoke only Italian to us as we were growing up. My mum learned to speak English over time and still speaks it with an Italian accent. My grandparents never learned English. Thankfully my dad spoke nine languages, including English. My childhood was less indulged than many others. I worked from the age of 13 on to help support my family (we all did). I never begrudged it. I sometimes wished when I was a teenager that I could hang around with my friends after school instead of going to my babysitting job. Most of the time though I didn’t mind it. My siblings and I (there were six of us/ three girls and three boys) were very competitive in school and games. But we also were each others’ biggest supporters. I remember laughing a lot and sitting around the table after dinner arguing about politics, or baseball, or who had worked the hardest in the garden or whatever! We were a loving and happy ethnic family. 3.If you could have any super power what would it be and why? I would definitely say the ability to apparate as Harry Potter was able to do (disappear and reappear in the desired location). I am always doing too much and always running late. If I could factor out the travel time, I’d save a bundle of time and maybe accomplish everything I have on my list! 4.Tell us a story/incident that happened while starting or running your company that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that. Six years ago I lost my best friend and business partner when my sister, Gabriella, passed away. For the first two years after she died I did nothing with the business. I hired a man to run the business but he lacked passion and the company floundered during that time. When I finally had the strength to take it over I vowed I would build the company in Gabriella’s honor. That’s when I changed the name of the company to Gabriella’s Kitchen and took over the operations as CEO. Gabriella's illness and passing has been one of the most painful experiences in my life but also one that taught me the strength in vulnerability and openness. During her illness Gabriella would often reach out to me or other people with whom she was close and share her fears openly. She showed me that reaching out was not a sign of weakness but just the opposite. She was gracious throughout and found strength and joy in the love people shared with her. She wasn’t afraid to love and laugh with abandon regardless of her circumstance. This experience made me a more empathetic leader and allowed me to let my guard down with those close to me and to reach out when I need help. 5.Have you ever been underestimated simply for being a woman? Tell us how. I am mostly oblivious to the fact that I am female. I recall however one incident when I was a young lawyer handling the sale of a client’s business when a prospective buyer told one of the senior partners in my firm that he would not deal with me because I was female. My senior partner responded, “Then you will not be participating in the bidding because it’s her file and she’s not going anywhere”. The prospect capitulated and dealt with me. 6.Are you working on any upcoming projects you can tell us about? We’re in the process of rebranding our skinnypasta™ products. We’ve listened to our consumers and we know that being “skinny” isn’t their goal. And even if “skinny” means more to us than skin and bones, we want to be clear, our brand is about being the best you can be, finding that inner potential and pushing boundaries. We’re all about nourishing healthy lifestyles with simple, all-natural foods. So, we’ll be unveiling a new name and look soon, but it’s under wraps for now! We’re really excited to share it with everyone. And we’re always dreaming up new foods, like sauces and nutrient-dense meals, so definitely keep an eye out for those soon. 7.What are your goals with the company? My ultimate goal is for everyone across North America to eat Gabriella’s Kitchen skinnypasta™. We offer pastas for everyone, be it for someone who’s watching her weight, wanting to refuel after a workout or just put healthy food on the table for her family. Many of our pastas are gluten-free and all of them are free of GMOs, preservatives and additives — and are all full of delicious, healthy stuff, including protein. Mostly though, we’re passionate about maintaining authentic Italian taste and texture because that’s what we want to eat, too! I really want people to know they don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. Food can be healthy AND delicious!